As the military Joint Task Force continues to rid creeks in Ogun and Lagos states communities of militants, residents of Ibafo community, in Ogun State, have recounted the horrors of armed robbers and militants’ attacks. While praising the military for the war on militants in the area, they are worried over the future security of Ibafo.
According to them, policemen attached to Ibafo Police Station are not capable of handling insecurity in the community.
The residents said they had been living in hell since the encroachment of militants into their community. Some of them recounted their experiences, saying that most of the militants, who were also armed robbers, continually raided the community, raping housewives in the presence of their husbands. Husbands were ordered to fan the robbers as they raped their wives. A resident, Mr. Innocent, said that since April 2016, those of them residing in Ibafo, had been living in fear.
He said the insecurity in the area started after policemen attached to the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS), arrested a militant identified as General, believed to be the leader of Ijaw militants at Ebute.
He said: “Another issue also escalated the militants’ attacks. Insecurity in Ibafo also started after pipeline vandals were stopped from oil bunkering. They left pipeline vandalism and focused on kidnapping and robbery. They even used to burgle victims’ homes.”
Innocent continued his narration: “Most times, when these militants stormed victims’ homes, they would demand money. Once the owner of the house said he didn’t have money, they would rape his wife.
They would order the woman’s husband to fan them while they were raping his wife. Before the arrival of the military, we have repeatedly asked Ogun State government to come to our aid.” Remembering the nightmarish days of militants’ attacks, another resident, Isiaka, said: “Whenever these militants stormed a house, they would order the victim’s wife to cook for them and they would take their time to eat.
Their operations usually lasted three hours or more. Whenever we called on Ibafo Police Station during such operations, the police wouldn’t come. They would sit in their Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), stationed in front of their office.
They would first ask you, if the trouble had to do with militants or not. They would tell you, they were coming, but they wouldn’t. If you go to Ibafo Police Station, you would find more than 30 motorbikes seized by the police. These policemen harassed innocent residents. Our greatest challenge in Ibafo, is that policemen there are not ready to protect residents. A robber can rob for hours without fear of being challenged by policemen.”
He remembered that robbers once invaded the home of a family about 2 a.m. One of the robbers, ordered the man’s wife to cook for them. The robbers took their time to wait and eat, but policemen didn’t come even after other residents alerted them of the robbery operation. They also accused Ibafo policemen of never responding to distress calls.
The residents urged the Ogun State government to begin making alternative plans in securing Ibafo, before Federal Government withdraws the military. A commercial motorcyclist, Kelechi, said: “Is it allowed for police to have a shrine in their stations? There is a shrine in front of Ibafo Police Station.
There is a red piece of cloth tied to the shrine. You’ll see a big stone at the centre of the shrine and smaller stones. Most of the Ibafo residents do not see anything good ever coming out from Ibafo Police Station.
Another resident, Aderemi, also accused the police of extortion. He said: “These policemen would come out very early in the morning and begin to extort money from cyclists. Sometimes, when you buy fuel in gallons from a filling station, the police would collect it from you.
They would divert it for their use. It has happened to me!” It was gathered that the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Camp ground, has become a safe haven for residents that fled Ibafo.
Many of the residents, tired of living in perpetual fear, abandoned their homes at Ibafo, to start residing at the Redemtion Camp. The Ogun State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Abimbola Oyeyemi, said it was impossible for any police station to have a shrine.
He said: “The only thing we have at every station is the Nigeria Police Flag, which had been erected. In fact, residents of that area are praising efforts of the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), because of what he had been able to achieve. I don’t know how some people got that type of story. There’s no time residents called on the police, that they wouldn’t respond. They always respond promptly.”